Anjali Sergeant

Lower Death Rate Among Patients of Female Physicians May Be Due to More Recent Women Medical School Grads Interview with:

Anjali Sergeant

Anjali Sergeant
McMaster Medicine Class of 2022 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This collaborative study from the University of Toronto and McMaster University found that inpatients in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) cared for by female physicians had lower mortality rates compared to those cared for by male physicians. Specifically, a 0.47% difference in patient deaths was reported, which is significant in the context of thousands of deaths in Ontario hospitals each year. This supports similar findings from an American study (Tsugawa et. al) published in 2017.

Our study also examined gender-based differences in medical practice, including lab and imaging tests ordered, and medications prescribed. Female doctors ordered significantly more imaging tests for their patients but this factor did not explain their lower patient death rates.

The mortality difference shrank when accounting for the number of years that doctors were in practice. This suggests that patients of female doctors may have better outcomes partially because more women make up newer medical grads in Canada, who may be more up-to-date on clinical guidelines. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our study shows that female doctors had lower patient death rates compared to the patients of their male colleagues. This difference could not be explained based on imaging tests the fact that female physicians ordered more imaging tests, like CT scans and ultrasounds. The lower death rate in the patients of female physicians was partially explained by the fact that a higher proportion of new medical grads are female, and new grads may be more up-to-date on clinical guidelines. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Prior evidence from the medical literature reports that female physicians tend to spend more time with patients, provide more patient-centered care, and stay more up-to-date on clinical guidelines than their male counterparts. We did not investigate these potential differences in patient care, but it would be interesting to see whether these factors influence patient outcomes. 

We thank you for your interest in this topic. No disclosures to report.


Sergeant A, Saha S, Shin S, et al. Variations in Processes of Care and Outcomes for Hospitalized General Medicine Patients Treated by Female vs Male Physicians. JAMA Health Forum. 2021;2(7):e211615. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2021.1615



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Last Updated on July 17, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD